- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 26, 2011

Two D.C. teens in the custody of the city escaped from a residential treatment facility in Northwest on Wednesday, The Washington Times has learned.

Leon Wynder and Reginald Tomonia, both 17, jumped from a third-floor window at the Alternative Solutions for Youth facility in the 5800 block of 14th Street in Northwest, according to sources within the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services.

The sources said the teens cut off their Global Positioning System bracelets when they escaped and are still at large.

Little information about the youths was available Thursday, but DYRS sources said Leon has been a ward of the city since he was 12 and has previously escaped from DYRS custody.

The sources said Reginald was arrested for wielding a BB gun. The sources spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Chris Shorter, chief of staff to DYRS Director Neil Stanley, said the department cannot confirm any facts or details related to youths committed to its custody.

DYRS in recent months has seen high-profile escapes from a residential treatment facility it contracts with in South Carolina and from its own secure detention facility, the New Beginnings Youth Treatment Center in Laurel.

Asked about the escapes, D.C. Council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat and chairman of the Committee on Human Services that has oversight of DYRS, said: “Anytime there is an escape from a secure facility, it’s a great concern to the neighborhood and to us all.”

Mr. Graham introduced a resolution this month that would allow DYRS in the event of escapes to release a photograph and “other relevant information determined by the agency as additional tools to quickly and safely apprehend a juvenile escapee” instead of waiting for a court order.

At the time of the South Carolina and New Beginnings escapes, DYRS released a brief narrative about how each escape happened but provided few other details.

The legislation is designed to let the public assist law enforcement in the search for juvenile fugitives, placing the youths on par with adult offenders who escape from custody.

“In addition, the release of a photo would be a deterrent to youthful offenders considering escaping from a detention facility or nonsecure placement,” the resolution says.